Scissor Bees

  • Name: Chelostoma
  • Rank: genus
  • Parent ID: 465612

Chelostoma is a genus of bees in the Osmiini tribe of the family Megachilidae. The genus is divided into 5 subgenera with 56 described species.

ID: 252470

Scissor Bees (Chelostoma): Nature’s Precise Pollinators

In the diverse world of bees, Scissor Bees, scientifically known as Chelostoma, captivate with their unique physical traits and intriguing behaviors. These remarkable bees, belonging to the Megachilidae family, are renowned for their specialized adaptations and precision in pollination. Join us as we delve into the fascinating world of Scissor Bees and explore their extraordinary characteristics and ecological significance.

Ecology and Distribution:

Scissor Bees, or Chelostoma, are found in various regions around the world, including Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa. They inhabit diverse habitats, such as forests, meadows, and gardens, showcasing their adaptability to different environments. Some species display specific preferences for certain floral resources or nesting substrates, reflecting their ecological adaptations.

Characteristics and Behaviors:

One of the most distinguishing features of Scissor Bees is their scissor-like mandibles, which are specially adapted for cutting and shaping plant materials. These mandibles, often larger in females than in males, aid in various tasks such as nest construction and collecting nesting materials.

Scissor Bees are solitary nesters, with each female building and provisioning her own nest. They utilize various nesting materials, including plant stems, hollow twigs, or even abandoned snail shells. The females skillfully cut and shape the nesting materials with their scissor-like mandibles, creating perfectly fitted cells within their nests.

Pollination and Plant Interactions:

Scissor Bees are efficient and precise pollinators, contributing to the reproductive success of numerous flowering plants. Their unique adaptations, such as scissor-like mandibles, enable them to access floral resources with precision and efficiency. As they visit flowers in search of nectar and pollen, they inadvertently transfer pollen from the male to the female reproductive structures, facilitating fertilization and seed production.

These bees exhibit floral constancy, meaning they tend to visit specific plant species during foraging trips. This behavior increases the chances of effective pollination for those plants, leading to higher seed production and genetic diversity within plant populations.

Conservation and Importance:

Scissor Bees, like many other pollinators, face various threats that can impact their populations. Habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change, and urbanization are significant challenges requiring conservation efforts. Preserving natural habitats, providing suitable nesting substrates, and promoting the availability of diverse floral resources are crucial steps in protecting these valuable pollinators.

Understanding the ecological importance of Scissor Bees and pollinators, in general, is vital for their conservation. By recognizing their specialized adaptations and appreciating their role in pollination, individuals, communities, and policymakers can contribute to their protection. Creating pollinator-friendly environments, reducing pesticide usage, and supporting initiatives that prioritize biodiversity conservation are essential for ensuring the continued presence of these fascinating bees.

Identification Characteristics

Scissor Bees, or Chelostoma, possess several identifying characteristics that distinguish them from other bee species. Here are some key features:

Scissor-like Mandibles: The most distinctive characteristic of Scissor Bees is their scissor-like mandibles, which are adapted for cutting and shaping nesting materials. The mandibles are typically robust and elongated, giving them a unique appearance.

Size and Coloration: Chelostoma bees vary in size, but they are generally small to medium-sized bees, typically measuring between 6 and 12 millimeters in length. They exhibit a range of colors, including shades of black, brown, or metallic hues. Some species may have additional markings or color patterns on their bodies.

Nesting Behavior: Scissor Bees are solitary nesters, with each female constructing her own nest. They utilize various nesting materials, such as hollow plant stems, twigs, or even snail shells. The use of precise cutting and shaping techniques with their mandibles allows them to create fitted cells within the nest.

Pollen Collection: Like other bees, Chelostoma bees collect pollen as a food source for their offspring. They have specialized structures on their legs, such as pollen brushes or dense hairs, which aid in collecting and transporting pollen from flowers back to their nests.

It’s important to note that specific identifying characteristics may vary among different species within the Chelostoma genus. Consulting field guides, local experts, or entomologists can provide more accurate identification and information if you come across a bee that you suspect to be a Scissor Bee.


Scissor Bees, or Chelostoma, with their scissor-like mandibles and precise pollination abilities, exemplify the wonders of nature’s intricate relationships. Their specialized adaptations, solitary nesting behaviors, and floral constancy make them exceptional pollinators. By understanding their ecological significance and taking actions to preserve their habitats, we can contribute to the conservation of these captivating bees and the ecosystems they inhabit, ensuring a sustainable future for both bees and the plants they support.